Alpha Dog – Movie Review

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“Human depravity converging on the eyes and ears with blunt force trauma.”

_ Alpha Dog _
Title: Alpha Dog

As I sit down to write this review I am troubled by a couple of things. One, that events like those depicted here go on in our world daily, two, I have no answer or means to fix or change these events and third and most traumatic of all, admitting I really liked Justin Timberlake as an actor. I never thought a movie with Timberlake could be good, much less intensely captivating. Since I have to now eat crow I would like it with a side of broccoli if possible.

Alpha Dog is as disturbing as it is grand. Human depravity converging on the eyes and ears with blunt force trauma. Written and Directed by Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook) Alpha Dog is inspired by the true story of the youngest guy ever to make the FBI’s most wanted list. Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch) is a drug dealing, angst filled, no home training-punk. When he retaliates against Jake Mazursky (Ben Foster) for a deal gone bad by kidnapping Jake’s little brother Zack (Anton Yelchin), lives spiral even farther out of control. Cassavetes shows the ugly side of this lifestyle and doesn’t try to glamorize it. He shows what happens when kids are not taught any sort of respect for parents, society or themselves. As the oompas sang a long time ago, “Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-da If you’re not spoiled, then you will go far…”

The characters in this film make the Outsiders look like the Mickey Mouse Club. Lords of Dogtown like Sesame Street. Be advised that this movie is not for the faint of heart or virgin of ear. The language and context in which it is spoken is brutal. Drug use and sex run rampant. I say all this so you will know the type of characters Cassavetes is depicting. The style of writing and directing have to match the intensity of the events. That is what makes this film work. That and the acting. As an ensemble the cast of Alpha Dog move as one. The way they play off each other helps build the realness of the film and adds one more piece to the building climax. Timberlake could have started off slow and possibly starred in a few Romantic Comedies to get his feet wet. But he dives into a volatile role and plays it for all it’s worth. It’s fluid and natural. But don’t expect the “Cry Me a River” Justin. This is explicit Justin to the extreme.

Bottom line, this film is not for everyone. Only the most diehard of film fanatics will understand or appreciate it. This is not even remotely entertainment. It is a gritty look at a moment in time, through the eyes of a creative and talented director. Needless to say Alpha Dog is Rated R for pervasive drug use and language, strong violence, sexuality and nudity. And that is an understatement. I can’t recommend it for anyone under 19 due to the content and theme. Younger fans of Timberlake will be drawn by the name but this is not the place for them. As a creative piece I give it 4 out of 5 tats. But never before have I meant it as strongly when I say be wise and know before you go. I’m Matt Mungle

The Mungle (matt@spin180.net)(01/10/07)

“Matt is a member of the North Texas Film Critics Association (NTFCA) and hosts the weekly syndicated Indie Rock Radio Show Spin 180. Plus with his wife Cindy they do a weekly radio feature, The Mungles on Movies. For additional reviews and interview clips visit the website www.mungleshow.com”

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